General Motors is sticking with its prediction that it will develop a commercially viable fuel cell vehicle by 2010, despite a federal report that casts doubt on the timetable.
To do so, GM will have to cut costs of operating fuel cell vehicles sharply and settle on a fuel cell power system by 2006, its top research and development executive says.
"I think we're going to have to have the propulsion system nailed pretty well by the 2006 time frame," says Larry Burns, vice president for research & development and planning.
GM executives say the 2010 target is viable. Chairman Rick Wagoner, in an interview last fall, said GM has seen nothing to discourage it. But Wagoner added that GM needs to "work hard on the costs" to build the business case for a vehicle.
GM officials don't want to repeat their experience with the EV-1 electric car, in which they put a small fleet of cars on the street with subsidized leases. GM pulled the plug when the technology failed to advance to make electric vehicles popular.
"Unless somebody at some point thinks they're going to make some money off it, it isn't going to work," Wagoner said.